BREAKING: North Dakota State Athletics Announces They Will Be Moving To The Mountain West Conference in 2026

This article is satirical and fake. It is a part of our annual Rectrum special April Fools edition.

In 2004, then-athletic director, Gene Taylor, and former university president, Joe Chapman, announced that NDSU would be reclassifying to division one athletics. Now 20 years later, athletic director, Matt Larson, and university president, Dr. David Cook, announced at a press conference last Wednesday that North Dakota State University would be moving all its athletic programs to the Mountain West Conference. The move will allow NDSU to compete for postseason bids starting in 2026. This is the end result for a school that has been denied access to the top conferences in the country for the better part of a decade but has finally been granted access to a higher level of college athletics. The questions are, why the Mountain West and why now?

Matt Larsen addressed the question during the press conference saying, “ Well, we have been in conversations with conferences in the past but no invites, so we have had to wait our turn so to speak, and when the Mountain West came forward and told us that they would give us a complete conference membership and not just a football-only membership, it was a decision we could not pass up. I want to thank the Missouri Valley Football Conference and The Summit League for allowing us to participate in their leagues for the past 16 years, but it is time for us as a university to move up and take on a new challenge on the field and on the court.” 

He also addressed how this impacts the football program. “This by far is the number one question I have gotten for the past 10 years since I got this job in 2014: When is NDSU going FBS? Well I can confidently say that the time is now. We were honored to play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the FCS playoffs for as long as we did, but when you look at it, you say to yourself, we’ve won 47 playoff games, nine national championships, and 10 conference championships. There is nothing left for us to do at the FCS level, and we have decided to make the jump to FBS so we can compete in a new league with great teams. Our goal is that someday we will win a national championship at the FBS level. We also couldn’t ignore how big the college football playoff is getting, and we feel that sooner rather than later we will be competing in that with Coach Polasek’s guidance and the players we have.”

What’s next for NDSU?

This has been NDSU’s big athletic hurdle that they have been trying to get over for the past decade as media speculation has been trying to guess if NDSU would go Mountain West, American or Conference USA, but in today’s era of conference realignment where the destination has no boundaries anymore, NDSU felt the Mountain West was the best decision for the program. North Dakota State seems to have been planning this for a while as once the Nodak Insurance Performance Complex was open as well as the upgrades to the track complex, SHAC, and softball stadium were finished plus a possible dome renovation on the way, NDSU has put itself in a better position to be one of the best athletic programs in the country. This move puts NDSU on a bigger level. They are hoping for an invite to a Power Four conference shortly like the Big Ten or the Big 12.

Is anyone joining the Bison in the MWC?

There have been rumors that South Dakota State, Montana and Montana State would join NDSU in the Mountain West but nothing official has been mentioned at this time.

Overall Reaction

Local media has been harping on this move for a while now, and they have said that beggars can’t be choosers. The head of this movement has been Forum columnist, Mike McFeely, who over the past few years has been saying that NDSU should go FBS. He said, “I’m glad this move had come to fruition after all these years because I want to see NDSU play somebody other than Missouri State and Murray State. I want to see them play new schools, so we can travel to places like Logan, Utah, Fort Collins, Colorado, or even Hawaii. I think they will be competitive right away, and if you give them a few years, they can compete for a conference and maybe a national championship.” So while McFeely is exploring the open areas of Boise and Albuquerque, NDSU athletics is heading in a new direction and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years.

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